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Handle With Care
I have a confession to make: I’m one of those people who take advantage of professionals in their off hours. I’m that girl you see at the dinner party with her mouth open wide for the dentist to look at a chipped tooth. Or at the auction, seeking legal advice from the lawyer in the buffet line. Or at the playground, asking the mechanic daddy if my tires really do have zero treading.
As reinforcement that karma exists, I’m getting royal payback. Since writing this blog I’m now on the other end of that little shtick, and well, I don’t know. It isn’t really that bad. I can talk about education easily and effortlessly. Ask me terminology questions and I’m Kool and the Gang. Tell me about Junior’s spelling development and I can roll with it. What makes me squirm is when parents tell me stories about what goes on in the classroom or school and ask me if I think it’s right or wrong.
Note to readers: I’m not Judge Judy.
No matter how great the district, school or teacher, at some point in every child’s academic life there will be an issue. There will be a policy you don’t like, a child that picks on yours, an instructional method you don’t agree with or a P.E. teacher who is a little too rough. And it’s darn near impossible, as parents, to stand neutral and look at the problem objectively because these are our babies.
I get it. Remember, I’m not just an educator, I’m a parent. I got cocky with my son Tyler; he sailed through his education and any issues I had were so minimal I don’t even remember them. I thought I was good. But oh, no I didn’t, because with Liv, well, let’s just say she’s making up for the cake walk I was on with Tyler.
I won’t get into details, but just know, I know. I know how sometimes you get angry and upset and think there is going to be permanent damage done to your child. You want to go right up there and give the teacher a piece of your mind. But don’t. And here’s why — when parents get a little crazy, teachers have a difficult time looking at your child with the same eyes afterwards. I don’t know why this is, but I’ve talked with enough educators to know that it is.
This is what I tell parents who come to me with the “and then she said” stories: Try to take a step back. Research what the proper protocol is to address this issue. Talk (calmly) to other parents (and try to stay away from gossiping) to see if the issue is broader than just you. Believe what your child is telling you, but understand there are always two sides to a story, and try to find out what the other side is. Ask questions, seek answers, work collaboratively. But never, ever come into school with your guns blazing.
If there’s anyone out there in the field of mental health (I know, I’m shameless) who knows why teachers feel this way, please fill us in. You may as well do it here and save yourself the trouble of hiding from me the next time we’re at the same public event.
By Sharon Linde, Education Blogger for SmartParenting